By JOHN REITMAN
When Ty and Taylor Tweed get together on the golf course, one might think there would be a lot of trash talk back and forth as brother and sister try to get into each other’s heads. Although there is a little gamesmanship between the former Findlay High duo who both play for the University of Findlay, they find comfort in spending time together on the course.
“There is nothing I enjoy more than playing golf with my brother when we both have time,” said Taylor, a sophomore at UF. “But when we do get together there is always some smack going on between us.”
“The game is a nice common ground we share,” said Ty, who is a year older than his sister, but after sitting out last season also has three years of eligibility remaining. “Playing together is a nice escape for us.”
Finding time is another story as each works hard preparing for the upcoming fall and spring seasons.
Like many collegiate golfers, the Tweeds spend an immense amount of time on the course each day honing their skills. And while it seems that is something they could do together, as both work and play at Findlay Country Club, practice is a personal thing that is best accomplished alone so each player can focus on what is important to them.
“You have to practice and play as much as you can,” said Ty, who said his goals include straightening out tee shots that he routinely pounds past those of other college players, but that often stray offline.
“I usually can hit it about 300 yards, but in what direction, that’s the wild card.,” he said.
His sister, who placed in the top 30 in two events last year as a freshman, also spends a lot of time at the course practicing so she can help the UF women improve on last year’s historic season.
Last spring, the UF women finished third in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship, took third in a NCAA Super Regional and qualified for the program’s first trip to the Division II Championship tournament where it finished seventh.
“Every day, I’ll go to the driving range for an hour, chip and putt for an hour and then I’ll play golf,” Taylor said. “I’m working hard, because this is something I really want.”
Taylor said her team’s goals now include winning a GLIAC championship, scheduled for April 24-26 at Findlay Country Club, returning to the Super Regional and NCAA Championship.
“We’re hosting the GLIAC here in the spring, and it would be awesome to win that,” Taylor said. “But our goal is to get back to the national championship.”
For Ty, finding success on the course means never going into a tournament with a score in mind. Instead, he tries to take what each course gives him.
“I try not to flood my mind with extra thoughts. I don’t pick out a number, I just go out and see what happens,” he said. “Some days, you can go out and play awful and shoot 75. Other days, you can play great and shoot 75. You have to take what the day gives you.”
For both players, reaching their goals starts with playing well enough to earn a spot in the regular tournament rotation for third-year UF coach Dominic Guarnieri.
At the beginning of each season, players from the men’s and women’s teams play from four to six rounds at Findlay Country Club and Red Hawk Run Golf Course. The five men’s and women’s players with the lowest scores go to the first tournament. How that rotation changes and when, if at all, depends on how well those groups play together.
“If they play four or five 18-hole rounds, you know who the top five are,” Guarnieri said.
“After the first tournament, if they play well, we won’t shake it up. But if some struggle and others are playing well, in the middle of the week we’ll play as many holes as we can. It’s like a qualifier. Everyone gets a fair shake at making it.”
The competition and pressure is a big change from high school where 6-foot-7, 250-pound Ty said it’s easy to be the big man on campus.
“The field is so competitive, in college, you have to bring your ‘A ‘game every time,” he said. “You can’t take a day off.”
Both Ty and Taylor point to their parents, Dave and Tracy, for inspiration, whether it’s been getting kids started in golf, serving as positive role models, driving them to the course, stepping in as a career counselor or just serving as a cheering section.
“They tell you all the right things without being overbearing,” Ty said. “I just never want to let them down.
“They’ve both been supportive of whatever we wanted to do.”
Ty began playing at age 6 with clubs his father made for him and that he still keeps in his room as a reminder of how good the game has been to him. He grew up playing in Findlay Area Golf Association tournaments and has helped Dr. Charles Spragg run the events for area youth each of the past two summers.
“Being a bigger kid, football was always pressed on me,” he said. “But, I always liked golf more. I had to pick between the two, and I chose golf. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Unlike her brother, Taylor didn’t take to the game immediately. It wasn’t until she entered eighth grade that she began to really enjoy the game.
“Golf and volleyball were in the same season, and I had to choose between them,” she said. “My friends were all playing volleyball, and I was good at that. But I realized I enjoyed playing golf with my dad and my brother more. It was good bonding time with them, and I fell in love with it from there.”
So who is the better player?
“It’s close, but I’d say he is,” Taylor said. “He can sure hit the ball a lot farther.”
“As far as I can remember, she’s has beaten me once, and she’s never let me forget about it,” he said. “Being brother and sister, it’s a little gamey sometimes.
“Am I better? I like to think so.”
John Reitman is director of news, editorial and education for TurfNet, an Orlando, Florida-based news and information service for golf course superintendents. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.